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Our Place in the Sun

Our Place in the Sun: Canada and Cuba in the Castro Era

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Our Place in the Sun
    Book Description:

    Penned during the transition of power from Fidel Castro to Raúl Castro,Our Place in the Sunexplores the Canadian-Cuban relationship from 1959 to the present day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9797-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction: Worlds Apart
    (pp. 3-21)

    Our Place in the Sun: Canada and Cuba in the Castro Erais a collection of ten original essays by thirteen Canadian scholars; the conclusion takes the form of a short retrospective by a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba, Mark Entwistle. This book was inspired in part by Fidel Castro’s unexpected cession of power to his brother Raúl in the summer of 2006, but it makes no claim to be the definitive treatment of Canada’s fifty-year relationship with revolutionary Cuba. Rather, the essays inOur Place in the Sunare impressionistic, in the best sense of the term. They evince...

  6. 1 Canada, Cuba, and Latin America: A Paradoxical Relationship
    (pp. 22-43)

    This chapter argues that Cuba has acted as both a stimulus for the building of a closer relationship between Canada and the Latin American region and as a break on tendencies towards that end. Cuba is thus shown as having often kept Canadian decision makers wary of entanglements farther south than the United Stateswhilealso having stimulated those same actors to engage further with the region.

    I begin with a short overview of the Canadian relationship with Latin America before the Second World War when relations were established between Ottawa and several regional states including Cuba, and follow this...

  7. 2 Inside Castro’s Cuba: The Revolution and Canada’s Embassy in Havana
    (pp. 44-74)

    Canada’s relationship with Cuba in the 1950s was mostly trade-oriented, largely uncontroversial, and thoroughly laid back. The coming to power of Fidel Castro and the 26th of July Movement brought dramatic changes. Relations with revolutionary Cuba became highly political, extraordinarily controversial, and more than difficult for those involved.

    Canada maintained both economic and diplomatic relations with the island nation through the politics, controversies, and challenges of the early 1960s, and continues to do so today. The United States did not and does not. During a period of rising tensions and then outright hostilities, Castro accused the United States of interference...

  8. 3 ‘Calculated Diplomacy’: John Diefenbaker and the Origins of Canada’s Cuba Policy
    (pp. 75-95)

    Canada’s working relationship with revolutionary Cuba is commonly viewed as having originated with Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. InThree Nights in Havana: Pierre Trudeau, Fidel Castro and the Cold War World, Robert Wright states that Pierre Trudeau ‘inherited’ the Cuban policy from Diefenbaker.¹ Two other authors, John Kirk and Peter McKenna, argue inCanada-Cuba Relations: The Other Good Neighbor Policythat Diefenbaker’s decision not to follow the U.S. embargo against Cuba was based on his refusal to be ‘pushed around by Washington’ and on his ‘moral support’ for Cuba. Diefenbaker’s personal distaste for President Kennedy, they write, unlike President...

  9. 4 Between Nation and Empire: The Fair Play for Cuba Committees and the Making of Canada-Cuba Solidarity in the Early 1960s
    (pp. 96-120)

    In December 1960 two Canadians¹ – Vernel Olson and Anne Olson – visited revolutionary Cuba as part of a 326-member delegation which had been organized by a U.S. group, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). Everybody was talking about Cuba, and the country was attracting what Lou Perez has called ‘a new wave of foreign travelers, mostly the committed, some just curious, a few critical.’² As it turned out, the Fair Play for Cuba tour of Christmas 1960 would be the last chance for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba legally before the United States ended diplomatic relations and imposed a travel...

  10. 5 Cuba’s Long Shadow: The Progressive Church Movement and Canadian-Latin American Relations, 1970–87
    (pp. 121-142)

    After 1970, the progressive church movement in Canada (PCM) exploded into local and national politics both in the intensity and in the breadth of its members’ actions. On indigenous poverty, refugee law, and the problem of human rights, among a range of critical issues, the PCM saw its role as leading Canada towards a more humane and more generous foreign and domestic policy. Through church organizations, in alliance with non-religious political and community groups in Canada and Latin America, and following quickly on the emergence of an equivalent movement in the United States, church leaders spearheaded a Canadian ‘discovery’ of...

  11. 6 Viva el pueblo cubano: Pierre Trudeau’s Distant Cuba, 1968–78
    (pp. 143-162)

    Following his election as prime minister in the spring of 1968, Pierre Trudeau set out to challenge the narrow orientation of Canada’s foreign policy, which had traditionally emphasized close relations with Western Europe and the United States. Within a few short years, his government had recognized Communist China and sought novel economic links with the European Community and Japan. Latin America, too, was a Trudeau priority, and in January 1976 he became the first prime minister in fifteen years to visit the region, capping his tour with a high-profile meeting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The dramatic encounter between these...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. 7 Canadian-Cuban Relations: Muddling through the ‘Special Period’
    (pp. 163-194)

    Relations between Canada and revolutionary Cuba have been intriguing, complicated, and, at times, unusually fluid. Successive governments in Ottawa have varied in their approaches to the island state, with some choosing a more engaged approach and others a considerably more restrained policy stance. Relations arguably peaked under the worldly and watchful eye of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, and reached a low point during Brian Mulroney’s tenure from 1984 to 1993.¹ The more recent Liberal majorities led by Jean Chrétien saw relations between the two countries fluctuate between the highs of important political visits (by the prime minister himself, then...

  14. 8 ‘Northern Ice’: Jean Chrétien and the Failure of Constructive Engagement in Cuba
    (pp. 195-222)

    Canada’s Cuba policy in the Castro era is commonly thought to have ranged between the poles of ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘benign neglect.’ The former is typically identified with Liberal governments of Pierre Trudeau and especially Jean Chrétien, whose ministers adopted the terms ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘principled pragmatism’ to describe their approach to Cuba.¹ Neglect is understood to have characterized the approach of Conservative governments from John Diefenbaker to Steven Harper, the adjectivebenignsignifying, importantly, that even the most anti-Castro of Tories have refused to follow the American example and subject Cuba to punitive trade and diplomatic sanctions. In Canada,...

  15. 9 Ambassador MD: The Role of Health and Biotechnology in Cuban Foreign Policy
    (pp. 223-245)

    For a few months in 2002, Cuban biotechnology received considerable international attention. That year, John Bolton, U.S. under-secretary of state for non-proliferation, claimed that ‘the United States believes that Cuba had at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.’ The possibility that Cuba would bring its considerable biotech and medical knowledge to bear in the palpable tension across the Florida Straits was raised in Washington yet dismissed in Havana as unthinkable. It was also dismissed by individuals such as former president Jimmy Carter and eventually downplayed by the secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the White House...

  16. 10 Canadian-Cuban Economic Relations: Past, Present, and Prospective
    (pp. 246-281)

    Canada and Cuba have maintained a mutually fruitful economic relationship through much of the colonial era, from independence to 1959, and during the regime of President Fidel Castro from 1959 to 2007. The relationship flourished with respect to trade in the 1970s and 1980s. During the first half of the 1990s, the economic relationship was especially important for Cuba as it underwent its disconnection from the former Soviet Bloc. Canadian participants were enthusiastic and optimistic about future economic relations. However, in the 2000s, this was replaced by greater realism and perhaps some scepticism concerning the possibilities for deepening economic interaction,...

  17. 11 Canada-Cuba Relations: A Multiple-Personality Foreign Policy
    (pp. 282-302)

    In a recent book on Cuban foreign policy, Michael Erisman wrote, ‘Canada has always had an unusual relationship with Cuba.’¹ His brief and specific characterization is loaded with content: anunusualrelationship that hasalwaysbeen that way.

    The relationship between Canada and Cuba has indeed been one of the more unique in Canadian diplomacy, not necessarily because of the substance of the relationship itself at any given moment, but because of its broader contours and setting. It is a case study in foreign policy and international-relations analysis that operates at different levels and on multiple terrains. It is one...

  18. Index
    (pp. 303-309)